Why Use a Real Estate Attorney
When a family or an individual makes a decision to buy a new house, it is a time of excitement and pride. It is also a major commitment of time and assets and is full of potential hazards such as fraud. A real estate attorney is a critical member of your real estate team, together with your realtor and lender, who can answer all your questions, protect all of your paperwork and guide you through all the intricacies of your transaction. This would also include attending the closing with you.
The real estate attorney is the only member of your team who can properly review the chain of title and title commitment to advise you if there are any title problems such as unpaid old mortgages or tax liens or judgment against former owners that can actually turn your new valuable asset into a worthless burden which you will not be able to resell. The title insurance commitment issued by the title company may reveal certain undesirable clouds of title and exempt the title company from having to insure such defects and you may not even know that there is actually a defect. The title policy issued to you after the recording of the closing documents may still contain such defects as an exception and you still don’t know enough to even know what an exception is.
A real estate attorney works only for you. He or she is trained and licensed to disclose to you any legal defect or exception. The fee for most real estate attorneys to represent you in a residential transaction is usually $400.00 to $500.00. A small investment buys you big protection.
The time to hire your attorney is prior to the signing of the contract with your seller or other party. There are many ways that the attorney can negotiate to improve your position on closing costs and other matters as you come into closing.
Florida law requires that a seller disclose all known visible and hidden defects regarding the home which may materially affect the value. Over the past several years, there has been an evolving body of case law for the seller to actually investigate and inquire as to any defects in order to make a proper disclosure. In the “old days” of a Seller’s Market, the home inspector usually came to the house to make a thorough inspection upon the request of the buyer after the parties went to contract.
Now, most real estate attorneys advise their sellers to hire a reputable home inspector to make a pre-sale home inspection so as to satisfy any duty of inquiry upon the seller. Additionally, a pre-sale home inspection readies the home for sale so that the price cannot be “beaten down” following an unsatisfactory home inspection hired by the buyer coming into closing.
Home inspectors are not licensed by the State of Florida nor are their activities or minimal qualifications regulated in any fashion. The best way to hire a good one with solid experience and qualifications is to ask your real estate attorney who has had the opportunity to review and sometimes, unfortunately, litigate the consequences of a bad home inspection.
When the survey (map of the property locating the structures, roadways and easements) is presented at the closing, the only person who is trained and licensed to show you all of the markings and potential problems is your real estate attorney. Just to possess a new or old survey does not mean that the survey does not disclose some defects.
So good luck with your potential home purchase. The interest rates are great and the prices of the properties are low.
Have fun and be careful.